One day the facebook was all a buzz about Just Kids by Patti Smith. I finished it just in time for Valentine’s Day. Mmmmm. Perfection.
Just Kids chronicles the lovely, lovely love story between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. It has everything you want in a lovely, lovely love story – unconditional support and absolute belief in each other in the best and the worst of times. The beautiful thing about this book is that Smith and Mapplethorpe are real and this love that you are reading about is real.
Their love, that protection from the world and the unwavering belief in each other cultivated two true artists. What I loved most about their story is that while the constructs of their relationship were fluid over the years, their love for each other never changed.
Patti Smith is a poet and Just Kids, told in brief bursts of time and short stories, is poetry. I finished the book on a plane and when I got to this passage I burst into tears*:
Often as I lie awake I wonder if you are also lying awake. Are you in pain or feeling alone? You drew me from the darkest period of my young life, sharing with me the sacred mystery of what it is to be an artist. I learned to see through you and never compose a line or draw a curve that does not come from the knowledge I derived in our precious time together. Your work, coming from a fluid source, can be traced to the naked song of your youth. You spoke then of holding hands with God. Remember, through everything, you have always held that hand, grip it hard, Robert, and don’t let go.
The other afternoon, when you fell asleep on my shoulder, I drifted off too. But before I did, it occurred to me looking around at all of your things and your work and going through years of work in my mind, that all of your hard work, you are still your most beautiful. The most beautiful work of all.
(*Sidebar – If you didn’t know already, airplanes are great places to cry. For the most part no one is paying attention and even if they are, they don’t REALLY want to talk about it. They’ll just stare straight ahead and pretend like nothing is going on. Other great places to cry include in the shower and while driving alone, particularly if it’s nighttime or you’re wearing giant sunglasses. You’re welcome.)